Turntable.fm Showing How Sharing Music Is Communication

from the the-shared-experience-is-what-makes-culture dept

We’ve already talked about just how amazing Turntable.fm is for its users. The key point we made was how it totally makes music social in a way that’s incredibly powerful.

I noted how much it reminded me of when I was an actual DJ on the radio many years ago, where so much of the fun wasn’t just in playing music, but in hanging out with a bunch of friends and playing music together. Others are recognizing this as well. In one of the most splutteringly gushing reviews of the service, ever, Sam Grobart at the NY Times highlights this same key point by noting that sharing music is communication:

It doesn?t matter if you start a room with some nearby cubicle mates or with friends scattered across the globe: what you begin to realize ? almost instantly ? is that taking turns playing music with friends is a kind of communication. One song leads to another. Music, enjoyable in and of itself, becomes a sort of shorthand when played among people who have shared memories attached to it. Someone plays a song that was popular when you were college, then another friend plays another song from that same period and ? just like that ? you?ve traveled back in time. It?s like you?re all sharing in the same inside joke.

And this feeling is reflected not just in the choice of songs, but in the comments that friends post. Someone digs a lost hit out of the crates and the message board lights up with comments from friends (O.K., my friends) saying things like ?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!? and ?my head is exploding.?

Using Turntable can even help you make friends with people you only know in passing. If you?re D.J.-ing in a room with co-workers, you may never have realized that you and the guy across the floor both like Afropop. Now you have something new to talk about at the soda machine.

Later, he notes: “When your old college roommate surprises you with that Deee-Lite song the two of you used to rock out to, you know it?s more than just music: it?s a message.”

Indeed. After writing my original post on Turntable.fm and how it reminded me of hanging out and DJing with a group of others — people who I was close friends with at the time, but have mostly lost contact with — I reached out to many of my former co-DJs to talk about setting up a “reunion” via Turntable.fm. It’s hard to use Turntable.fm and not recognize that sharing music is a very legitimate form of communication.

In many ways, it’s a further manifestation of a point about culture that Julian Sanchez raised a couple years ago, about how culture is built off of shared cultural experiences. It’s the sharing part of culture that makes the culture valuable. If only you experience it, it just doesn’t have the same power. Turntable.fm’s key reason for being so addictive is that it’s one of the first operations, whether on purpose or not, that has effectively taken that key aspect of culture, and turned it into a service.

However, separate from just how Turntable.fm highlights this key point, I think it also helps explain why the legacy recording industry and many politicians have made so many wrong and counterproductive moves concerning dealing with music in the internet era. Rather than realizing that music is communication, they look at it solely as a unit of content. When you view music as a unit of content, even as the fans of music actually view it as a form of communication, you’re going to clash. That’s because many of the ways that people communicate via music break down the concept of music being a unit of content. And, in the end, that’s what a lot of the legal and policy battles have been about over the past couple decades. A very large group of people are communicating with music… and some big legacy players are simply not set up to even comprehend that, let alone cater to it.

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Companies: turntable.fm

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Comments on “Turntable.fm Showing How Sharing Music Is Communication”

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Fzzr (profile) says:

new user's perspective

I’ve been using turntable just for the last week. For me, what’s been the best part of it is the mini-community aspect – there’s a facebook group around the room I frequent most often, and it has regulars and in-jokes. The service isn’t perfect, but that just means there’s lots of room for improvement and further innovation. Of course, any changes to the core service will have to clear the RIAA anti-innovation hurdle. As it is, It’s already something that I find myself spending a lot of time on – and I’ve never seen music as a truly social experience until now.

FatGiant (profile) says:

Sadly, not for everyone

I loved the experience, and in the 3 days I had the privilege to use it, ended up meeting people that I would never ever have the chance to find, that share many of the same cultural references that I do.

Now, locked behind an arbitrary border, that makes absolutely no sense in the Internet, I am locked out.

Yes, I could use one of the many ways to break that limitation. But, why should I? I would feel like a thief, I would know that I was trespassing. And that would remove all value from the experience, and from the communication I could have there, because I wouldn’t dare sharing anything about myself, because the rooms are monitored, and all conversations are stored. So, no, I don’t feel like going there anymore, because I am a pariah in their terms.

So, it is a GREAT service if you happen to live in the “right” side of the world. Not for the us that are outside.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Re: Sure to be popular with 14-year old girls.


Obviously, you’ve never used it. It’s very popular with grown-ups.

The only people it’s not popular with are people who hate music, people who hate talking about music, people who hate sharing music, people who hate sharing communal experiences centering on a common interest, people with absolutely no friends, acquaintances or others who can put up with them for more than three minutes at a time, etc.

It’s also highly unpopular with repetitive contrarians who post knee-jerk responses to every single article at various websites.

Samuel Abram (profile) says:

Re: It's not your fault either.

It’s not your fault either. It’s because there are a lot of legal hurdles to jump through (especially that of international copyright law) that make something great like turntable.fm inaccessible to the non-US portion of the world. Since copyright varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction (i.e. country to country), synchronizing a music-sharing service across borders seems like a far-off dream.

Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile) says:

Well, turntable.fm has signed licensing agreements with both ASCAP and BMI. I’m hoping that these two performance rights groups don’t try to strangle it right out of existence with ever-increasing fees, but they both kind of have that track record.



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